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BRI wildlife research biologists, along with a wide range of collaborating scientists, conduct innovative wildlife science around the globe. Always at the forefront of our work is attention to the care of the wildlife we handle. Here, a biologist measures the beak of a Cooper's Hawk.

Top News and Events

Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI), a nonprofit ecological research group based in Portland, Maine, conducts innovative wildlife science worldwide.

BRI’s Center for Mercury Studies plays a lead scientific role in understanding the exposure and effects of mercury on wildlife in New England, North America, and around the world. The Center for Loon Conservation is dedicated to assessing current and emerging threats to loons. The programs in our Center for Ecology and Conservation Research aim to understand the workings of wildlife and their habitats while exploring how ecological stressors affect different species and ecosystems.

Below is an archive of our news releases. For more information on any of these topics, please contact our communications department.

Communications Director: Deborah McKew

News Release Archive

 
Jan 30, 2015

BRI Publishes its First Study Related to Climate Change

Portland, Maine—Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) announces the publication of its first mercury study related to climate change. Interactive effects of climate change with nutrients, mercury, and freshwater acidification on key taxa in the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative Region, published in Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, was produced in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The study explores how the amounts of contaminants and nutrients released into the environment, and their effects on natural resources in the Northeast, may be exacerbated by global climate change.

"Changing climate patterns in the Northeast--specifically warming temperatures, greater precipitation, and more storm events--may create conditions that enhance the methylation of mercury and further adversely impact the reproductive success of wetland-affiliated birds," says David Evers, Ph.D., BRI executive director and lead investigator of the mercury portion of the study. Methylmercury is the form of mercury that is especially toxic to wildlife as well as humans.

Key Findings of the Full Study:

  • Mercury: High blood mercury levels in birds of conservation concern, including Common Loons, Saltmarsh Sparrows, and Rusty Blackbirds, have been linked to lower nesting success.
  • Freshwater acidification: Adirondack forests, ponds, and lakes, once on the road to recovering from acid rain damage, may again be showing signs of acidification due to climate-induced changes in watershed soils.
  • Eutrophication:  Increased runoff may deposit excess nutrients in estuaries, reducing dissolved oxygen in coastal waters and creating "dead zones." And, warmer water temperatures promote harmful algal blooms, which have caused several recent bird die-offs in the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Amphibians: Certain chemicals make amphibians more susceptible to desiccation, leaving them more vulnerable to higher temperatures and more frequent droughts.
  • Freshwater mussels: Sensitive to a type of ammonia that is more toxic at higher temperatures, mussels may also be affected by increasing sediment from runoff.

Researchers on this study recommend further investigation of the interaction of global climate change with the formation and availability of methylmercury, and on how climate change driven shifts in the distribution of birds will affect their exposure to methylmercury.

BRI is part of a new Mercury-Climate Change Group with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Environment Canada.

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The mission of Biodiversity Research Institute is to assess emerging threats to wildlife and ecosystems through collaborative research, and to use scientific findings to advance environmental awareness and inform decision makers. BRI researches the effects of mercury on wildlife across all its research centers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mission is to work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefits of the American people.

For more information on the study, click here.

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Photo Credits: Cooper's Hawk © BRI-Rick Gray
Biodiversity Research Institute